Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Illusion – Renaissance [#610]

Ren_ill2Since rediscovering this in my collection, I have listened to it nearly every day since. It’s curious how the modern way seems to be more playlist orientated than album driven. As an exercise, I listened to the first album, Renaissance, this album, Illusion, and the following three albums, Prologue, Ashes are Burning and Turn of the Cards, in effect the first 5 albums by the band, to see if I could pinpoint something groundbreaking. I couldn’t but it was fun. But this Renaissance exercise has shown me how important music appreciation skills are in the full enjoyment of music by artists and appreciation of how sound develops over time.

As per Illusion by Illusion, I had mostly ignored this album, frightened by what stylistic differences that might exist to affect my enjoyment of core 1973-1978 era Renaissance. However, in true form, I found pre-Haslam Renaissance much more enjoyable. Indeed, it was clear that the style only seemed to change once the Dunford/Haslam crew stopped recycling work by the original band members and focused on their own style.

Illusion is the second album by the first incarnation of Renaissance that would later become Illusion and Stairway. It features the first song to include a member of the second incarnation, Michael Dunford, Mr Pine, which also features a melody that would later resurface in the fifth, and third with the new lineup, album Turn of the Cards. 

To add further twists the album was released in Germany in 1971, then again to the wider world in 1973 but not in the UK until 1977.

Finally, as a footnote, the video that accompanies today’s entry features Binky Cullom in the female vocal lead. Binky was a transitional member between Relf and Haslam. Sadly Binky doesn’t really seem to have the steadiness of Relf or Haslam, but I thought it would be fun to include it here.

Confused? Think about how the band felt!

and for those whose ears are now bleeding, here is the salve.

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Greenslade – Greenslade [#561]

Greenslade_coverDave Greenslade again, this time with his debut self titled album.

Greenslade is a progressive rock album and so there is quite a fair bit of twiddly keyboarding going on. In fact, Greenslade do for Moog and Hammond keyboards what Yes‘ Steve Howe does for guitars. However, this is a hard-core prog, a prog that only those that either experiment with certain illicit substances or those trained and lectured to Master of Prog Level 10 might fully appreciate. As I have not experimented with certain illicit substances and I am only a mere Level 6 self proclaimed Prog Master, Greenslade features in the music project purely for research purposes.

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Future Days – Can [#507]

Can_-_Future_DaysCan came into my life in the early noughties when a colleague gave me a copy of their Tago Mago album. I was suitably impressed but more of that when we get to T. Future Days features more chilled out Can rhythms melded with Susuki’s bizarre mumblings and Michael Karoli’s stand out lone-guitar performance. Kind of like lounge avant garde.

Future Days is Can’s fifth studio album. Vastly different from Tago Mago and yet not too far away from their fourth album, Ege Bamyasi. It’s surprising how little I’ve listened to this album, no really it is. Especially when I went through my revisit Can phase only last year.

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For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music [#485]

Roxy_Music_-_For_Your_PleasureRoxy Music’s second studio album brought to me by a hard drive dump from a former work colleague.

When I obtained this album, I was at a point in my life where my interest in Roxy Music consisted of Flesh and Blood, a live video of Bryan Ferry in concert and a selection of the band’s Best of albums. So having heard tracks from this album such as Do the Strand and In Every Dream Home a Heartache ad nauseam from my prior trove, it’s no surprise that this album gets little in the way of air time through my collection.

Shame really, some good music on it.

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Flying Teapot: Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 – Gong [#484]

220px-Gong_Flying_TeapotDave Allen, Steve Hillage and friends float about in a gnome filled teapot with some pot head pixies and a witch.

Back in the nineties when I was experimenting with life, my former acquaintance, Shitbag, introduced me to this album, stating as he did with Pink Floyd’s Animals that the album was rare and not available on CD except to an elite group of music lovers. In fact, he added, the band had floated away with pot head pixies so would never be seen live or in any branch of HMV.

Not only was I able to gather myself a copy of Flying Teapot, but I was also able to gain a copy of the follow-up album, Angel’s Egg using patience and a twenty pound note from the HMV in Church Street Liverpool. I like proving people wrong.

I regret never being able to see Gong live. Flying Teapot is one of those eye opening albums that bring a whole new experience to prog and the band, together with Pink Floyd, held my hand through my musical development into the mid to late nineties. Indeed, whenever I wanted some music to enhance my mood and spiritual yearnings, I’d choose Flying Teapot first, as a result, the album features heavily in my life soundtrack of that time. Which, on reflection, is bizarre when considering the concept behind Flying Teapot draws from Russell’s Teapot idea. Sadly, due to my introduction to darker, goth music, and exploration of new progressive rock, my appreciation of later chapters in the Radio Gnome story was missed. Not helped by frequent cries of “This is a right racket can we turn it off now please”.

Not an album for haters of jazz.

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Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd [#336]

Dark_Side_of_the_MoonWhen I was 17, the former acquaintance now known as Shitbag said to me:

“Pink Floyd don’t make any CDs anymore. You’ll not find this in HMV so don’t go looking”

So naturally I went looking, opening up a whole new world to me. I’d been aware of Pink Floyd for several years up to that point, but mostly only for their work The Wall. But as we learnt in Animals, there was a lot more to the band. Indeed, much later works like A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell just proved that there was still a lot to be produced and earlier albums like Atom Heart Mother and A Saucerful of Secrets proved there was a lot more to discover.

Darkside of the Moon was the second Pink Floyd album I bought. At the time a lot was going on in my life. It was also a time when the new millennium was approaching and with it esoteric disaster, spiritual end times and a new age of yogurt weaving, tofu knitting and miso misery was dawning.

There was also a total eclipse of the sun that was to be visible from the British Isles and Cornwall was to be the best spot to view it from. So, to avoid the crowds I planned an excursion to the nearest westerly point my girlfriend and I could reach without breaking the bank. Having bundled the tent and the king size duvet into the Citroen AX, all that was left was to make a mix tape for the car as entertainment.

Driving through rural Wales with the album on the car stereo blaring out in time to every twist, turn, 60mph stretch, open road and chicane it was uncanny. Culminating in coming down the hill into the picturesque village of Aberdaron on the western Llyn Peninsula just as Pink Floyd broke into Eclipse was possibly on of the most inspiring and thought provoking moments of my life. It was as if the album was written for the journey, the experience and the event.

Synchronicity at its best. Although next time I’ll try the whole experience again while watching Wizard of Oz and see how that works out.

I also have Dark Side of the Sky. A live recording of a performance of this album, but I see little point in writing a separate entry for it.

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Camel – Camel (#239)

Camel - Camel

Camel – Camel

In the 1970s, Andy Latimer and Pete Bardens got together in a studio and started releasing music under the name Camel, this is Camel’s first studio release.

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Album #72 = Angel’s Egg – Gong

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 19.51.48Angel’s Egg – Gong (1973)

Take one impressionable teenager. Play them The Flying Teapot Radio Gnome Part 1. Sit back and wait.

I bought this in on CD in 1990 after having my mind blown by The Flying Teapot. Gong are kind of like Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band meets King Crimson. Jazz, with bizarre fantasy world inspired lyrics and a hell of a lot of jazz influence.

Several years later I was at Sheffield Hallam University and Gong were playing at the Nelson Mandela building (now demolished). Of course I was too shy to go and see them by myself and regret that I never had the balls to do so. I would probably have given up on them there and then.

French band, Gong’s second Radio Gnome but fifth album tells the story of Zero, the hero, and his continuing exploits on the planet Gong with the Pot Head Pixies. Yes, you guessed it, this album is heavily drug inspired. Perfect for your spotty teenager in the early to mid nineties at a time of naive mysticism and pre-millennial optimism. Great stuff, if only for a song about vaginas.

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Music Project Album #10 – 10cc – 10cc

10cc –  10cc

The following entry has been written by a “special” guest writer – Zoefruitcake.

Stegzy delayed playing 10cc by 10cc as he knew I liked 10cc, and then decided I should be the one to write about it. So tonight he popped it on, we settled down to listen…and I discovered something.

I’ve got a CD called Changing Faces – The very best of 10cc and Godley and Creme. In the distant past I paid someone at work to record it from my cassette tape on to that CD and it has great songs on it like Wall Street Shuffle, Under the thumb (still one of my all time favourite songs) and Dreadlock Holiday. I’ve listened to it for years, and along with watching a BBC 2 showing of 10cc in concert circa 1970-something (which I enjoyed so much when I saw it that I actively wished time travel existed) I thought I was a fan of 10cc.

Tonight I was proved wrong, because 10cc by 10cc is a big pile of steaming horse shit that didn’t talk to me in the slightest. Ok, so it didn’t contain any of the later big hits I enjoy so much, but I expected to enjoy it and feel some connection. Nope. Maybe if I was younger and less tired I would play it a few times to see if it grew on me but I’m confident that unless this was the last album on earth that isn’t going to happen.

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